research notes

Hot off the Press – the Pure Prairie Eating Plan Fall Newsletter

Hot off the Press – the Pure Prairie Eating Plan Fall Newsletter

November is Diabetes Month.  Many of you will remember that the Pure Prairie eating Plan was developed and tested with people with Type 2 diabetes.  This month we are celebrating our roots and talking about our research across the country.  The newsletter provides more detail on the events we’ll be taking part in…and, of course, has some yummy recipes.  Check it out: http://pureprairie.ca/newsletters/

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The Best Protein You Can Eat, According to Nutritionists

The Best Protein You Can Eat, According to Nutritionists

“Protein is the key to keeping cravings at bay, building lean muscle and dropping those last few pounds. But according to a new review published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, it’s not just how much protein you eat that’s important: It’s where you get your protein that also matters.”  This is the opening statement to a recent article in the Huffington Post. The article goes on to explain that protein is made up of an assortment of amino acids, and each source of protein differs in the amino acid mix.  Some amino acids are ‘essential’, in other words, we can only get them from food so it’s important that we get enough of these particular amino acids.  Most plant-based proteins don’t have all the essential amino acids so it’s important to either combine them with other plant-based sources or to get your protein from animal sources, which are the most complete source of essential amino acids.  It also explains that each food ‘packages’ protein along with other important key nutrients such as vitamin B12 and iron. Eat a variety of protein rich foods to take advantage of their full value. The article lists some of the healthiest sources of protein – eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, whole grains, fish, legumes, Greek yogurt, nuts and leafy greens – and describes their particular benefits.  Click here for the complete article, which also has links to the scientific article.  You may also be interested in this post with high protein breakfast ideas.  It has simple, easy, fresh and tasty ideas....

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Hot off the press! PPEP Summer Newsletter

Hot off the press! PPEP Summer Newsletter

Barbecuing is a favourite summer pastime – our summer newsletter tackles the question “Is BBQing healthy?” and features a simple Planked Salmon BBQ menu with fresh potatoes, veggies and dip and Rhubarb-Bumbleberry Pie.  We also identify some opportunities to participate in nutrition research for those of you in the Edmonton area.

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The Benefits of a High Fibre Diet

The Benefits of a High Fibre Diet

In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, Leslie Beck, Nutrition Specialist, asked the following questions: “What if you discovered that eating a high-fibre diet could significantly lower your risk of a disease that, if not diagnosed and managed, has serious long-term health consequences? What if it were as simple as eating oatmeal, chia seeds and raspberries for breakfast, a spinach salad for lunch and some chickpeas and an apple tossed in for good measure?  Would you do it?” She goes on to describe a recently published study (the largest ever investigation into new-onset Type 2 diabetes) on the effects of fibre intake.  The study found that risk of Type 2 diabetes fell by 25% for every 10 grams or more per day of cereal fibre.  Leslie provided the following examples of food combinations that make up 10 grams of fibre: Two slices of 100-per-cent whole grain toast (4 g) + half of an avocado (6.5 g) One cup of oatmeal (4 g) + ½ cup of blackberries (4 g) + 1 tablespoon of ground flax (2 g) One-half cup of 100-per-cent bran cereal (12 g) + ½ cup of blueberries (1.5 g) One cup of cooked quinoa (5 g) + ½ cup of broccoli (2.5 g) + ½ cup of snow peas (2 g) + ½ cup of red pepper (1.6 g) Three-quarters of a cup of cooked freekeh, an ancient grain (8 g) + 1 cup of cooked kale (2.6 g) One cup of cooked brown rice (3.5 g) + ½ cup of lentils (7.8 g) Two seven-inch whole wheat tortillas (4 g) + ½ cup of black beans (7.5 g) 1 cup of whole wheat pasta (6.3 g) + ½ cup of green peas (4.4 g) One medium pear (5.5 g) + ¼ cup of almonds (4.5 g) Four dried dates (6.5 g) + 1/3 cup pistachios (4.2...

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Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

This recent paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides a meta-analysis of 28 randomized controlled trials.  The authors concluded that “adding ≥3 g oat beta glucan/day to the diet reduces LDL and total cholesterol by 0.25 mmol/L and 0.30 mmol/L, respectively, without changing HDL cholesterol or triglycerides.”  And added “Although generally confirming the results of previous meta-analyses that oat products reduce serum cholesterol, the present results differ in that the magnitude of the effects seen are 50–100% greater than those reported in previous meta-analyses. This is important because our study provides a more accurate assessment of the effect on serum cholesterol of following the recommendations of food standards agencies to consume ≥3 g OBG/d”.  Barley is another good source of beta...

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Hot topic: Prebiotics and probiotics

Probiotics are bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract and confer health benefits. In recent years there has been growing interest in the role of probiotics in disease prevention, how different diet patterns or antiobiotic treatments affect the probiotic populations, and whether “functional foods” can be developed to enhance probiotic effects. Prebiotics are poorly-digested carbohydrates (fibres and other carbohydrates) that can be digested (fermented) by the probiotics. Prebiotics thereby provide food for the probiotics. The “waste products” of the bacterial fermentation process can be used as energy by the host. In fact, this is the process by which cattle obtain between 60- 80 % of their energy requirements using the microbes in the rumen to produce nutrients that the cow can use. In humans, the process may contribute around 10% of total energy requirements. In addition, the nutrients produced by probiotics may have special health benefits. However, intensive research in this area is still ongoing. Examples of prebiotics include soluble fibres such as inulin, which is found in several types of vegetables, bananas, tomatoes, grains such as barley and rye. Dairy products also have prebiotics that are most abundant in fermented products such as yogurt, kefir and buttermilk. Probiotics (usually from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium types of bacteria) may also be added to dairy or other products. The ingredient list of a product often specifies whether prebiotics or probiotics has been added, although Canada currently has no regulations for addition of probiotics. Prebiotics like inulin may be purchased as supplements, in which case they fall under the same regulations as vitamins or other nutritional supplements. Of course, what everyone wants to know is, “If I take prebiotics or probiotics, will it improve my health?” The answer to that question is still emerging from the research and in many cases there is not enough evidence to say definitively one way or the other. The results of some recent research are listed in the table below. Health Condition Evidence for benefits of probiotics or prebiotics For more information Irritable bowel syndrome Probiotics relieved symptoms but there was not enough data on prebiotics Ford et al. American Journal of Gastroenterology 109:1547, 2014 Prostate cancer No specific evidence Mandair et al. Nutrition & Metabolism 11:30, 2014 Atopic dermatitis in children Probiotics prevented or decreased severity Foolad et al. JAMA Dermatology 149:350, 2013 Enhanced growth in preterm or low birth weight babies fed formula Not enough evidence Mugambi et al. Nutr J 11:58, 2012 There is considerable interest in whether prebiotics or probiotics might be useful therapeutics for prevention or treatment of several common metabolic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as colon cancer and other cancers. However, trials to evaluate the effectiveness of probiotics or prebiotics have not been published in any number; most of the evidence suggesting benefits comes from observational or small experimental studies. There are currently more than 600 clinical trials registered to study effects of probiotics on everything from weight loss to depression to constipation to arthritis. The outcomes of these studies should help to establish the health benefits of probiotics and their food, the prebiotics. Some information for this blog article came from EatRight Ontario (http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Probiotics/prebiotics/The-Pros-of-Probiotics.aspx#.VG0cuUv-5Dd) and Healthy U...

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